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first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 12, 2019 at 6:05 pm Contact Anthony: amdabbun@syr.edu Alexa Romero walked off the field minutes after delivering one of her most dominant performances of the season. After asking how many strikeouts she had — 11, her second-most this season — she put her hands over her face.“Because I’m not that pitcher,” Romero said of her surprise.But on Friday, Romero was that pitcher.The combination of the wind and the spin kept her pitches moving and baffled the Duke hitters for the entire afternoon. Romero threw six shutout innings, fanning 11 Blue Devils, the third consecutive start in which she has struck out at least 10. While the Syracuse bats failed to register a hit until the fifth inning, Romero’s dominance propelled the Orange (18-20, 7-6 Atlantic Coast) over Duke (21-23, 8-8), 4-0, for their ninth win in 11 games.“I just really kept spinning the ball. I knew if I spun my ball as hard as I can, the ball was going to go somewhere,” Romero said. “It was either going to be really good or really bad, and fortunately it was really good. My stuff was really moving today.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWith winds gusting upward of 30 miles per hour, it took Romero a few batters to gather herself and deliver. Of Romero’s first eight pitches on Friday afternoon, zero were strikes.The sixth pitch, which Romero thought was right down the middle, was called a ball.“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she muttered.The next three batters all popped out, barely contacting Romero’s rise ball. She needed just five pitches to get out of the jam.Romero said she noticed on film that the Duke hitters like to crowd the plate. This meant she could work inside early in the count, running rise balls in on hitters, especially righties. Then, she could finish off hitters outside. The first inning, two of the three hitters that popped out weakly were jammed.Pitching into a strong wind the entire afternoon, Romero and pitching coach Miranda Kramer made adjustments during her pregame bullpen session. She focused on using more strength and power in her legs to push-off more and deliver the ball.After the first, she began a run of strikeouts. Romero only frequents two pitches, the rise and the curve, and both stifled Duke on Friday. Once she got into a groove, she moved pitches inside-and-out, up-and-down with ease. The second inning, she needed just 13 pitches to strikeout the side.In the third, after an opening strikeout, Romero allowed a walk and the only hit of the day with just one out. On one of her few mistake pitches, Romero threw a rise ball right down the middle to Deja Davis while leading 0-2 in the count. Davis singled to center, one of only four times the Blue Devils hit the ball out of the infield. While SU couldn’t break through and find open gaps and hits, Duke couldn’t muster solid contact most of the game.“Alexa doing that out there is the most comfortable thing to play behind,” senior Alicia Hansen said. “If it wasn’t for her the score could have been a lot different.”Even after the single, Romero needed just six pitches to down the next two hitters, as she fooled Rachel Abboud with a pitch right down the middle and Kristina Foreman skied out on a rise ball.When Duke again had two runners on from a walk and hit by pitch in the fifth inning, Romero struck out Davis and Abboud on seven pitches, not throwing a ball. Time after time, she pounded each edge of the strike zone. After each strikeout, Romero turned to the bench and dabbed with her left arm.The two strikeouts to end the fifth were the last real chance Duke had of scoring. In both the sixth and seventh innings, Romero now had a lead.“Getting those four runs felt really good. I knew I didn’t have to press really hard and really really hit the zone,” Romero said. “Having that little comfort helped a lot.”The SU ace didn’t give the Blue Devils any hope of a rally. The sixth and seventh innings required just 11 minutes of real time and 22 pitches. Six batters up, six batters down. Romero struck out the final two hitters with neither coming close to contact on their final swings. Commentslast_img read more